Tuesday, November 29, 2011

  • Battlefield America: U.S. Citizens Face Indefinite Military Detention in Defense Bill Before Senate

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    The Senate is set to vote this week on a Pentagon spending bill that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government. A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect—anywhere in the world—without charge or trial. The measure would effectively extend the definition of what is considered the military’s "battlefield" to anywhere in the world, even within the United States. Its authors, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have been campaigning for its passage in a bipartisan effort. But the White House has issued a veto threat, with backing from top officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. "This would be the first time since the McCarthy era that the United States Congress has tried to do this," says our guest, Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First, which has gathered signatures from 26 retired military leaders urging the Senate to vote against the measure, as well as against a separate provision that would repeal the executive order banning torture. "In this case, we’ve seen the administration very eagerly hold people without trial for 10-plus years in military detention, so there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t continue to do that here. So we’re talking about indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens, of lawful U.S. residents, as well as of people abroad." [includes rush transcript]

  • Egypt Holds Historic Election as Military Council Resists Calls to Transfer Power to Civilians

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    Egypt is in the second day of its first elections since the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. On Monday, Egyptians waited in long lines across the country to choose their first-ever democratically elected parliament. The elections are being held in the wake of fierce clashes between protesters and police last week that left at least 42 people dead and more than 3,100 wounded. We play a video report filed by Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo about the election held in the aftermath of a deadly crackdown. "We’re right here, saying we want our rights... a civilian presidential council that is formed from people that represent us, and that is agreed upon, but they must have full authority, not just someone like before, like Essam Sharaf’s government, just a secretary that just carries out what the staff wants," says protester Rania Mohamed Fawzi. "No, we’ve been silent for a long time. This time, we are not silent, and we will get all our rights. And this won’t be like the first time. They said Mubarak left, and we all went home. No, this time, we won’t go home until we get all our rights." [includes rush transcript]

  • Pepper Spray Creator Decries Use of Chemical Agent on Peaceful Occupy Wall Street Protesters

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    We speak with Kamran Loghman, the expert who developed weapons-grade pepper spray, who says he was shocked at how police have used the chemical agent on nonviolent Occupy Wall Street protesters nationwide, including students at University of California, Davis, female protesters in New York City, and an 84-year-old activist in Seattle. "I saw it, and the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t police or students, was my own children sitting down, having an opinion, and their being shot and forced by chemical agents," says Loghman, who in the 1980s helped the FBI develop weapons-grade pepper spray and collaborated with police departments to develop guidelines for its use. "The use was just absolutely out of ordinary, and it was not in accordance with any training or policy of any department that I know of. I personally certified 4,000 police officers in the early '80s and ’90s, and I've never seen this before. And that’s why I was shocked. That’s why I’ve come up, and I feel it’s my civic duty to explain to the public that this is not what pepper spray was developed for." [includes rush transcript]

  • Occupy Student Debt: Students Urged to Refuse to Pay Off Loans as Schools Hike Tuition

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    Monday was a day of action for university students on both coasts angered by the rising cost of tuition and the crackdowns on their recent protests. In California, students temporarily shut down a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents to protest a series of tuition hikes and the violent response to protests at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Wary of a massive demonstration, the regents met by conference call from four different campuses but were still forced to switch venues after being confronted by chanting students at three of the four sites. In New York City, about a thousand students marched outside a meeting where City University of New York trustees voted to authorize annual tuition increases through 2015. The protests were the latest in a long-running battle against tuition hikes and education cuts that originated on UC campuses two years ago and quickly spread across the country. We speak with two guests who helped launch the Occupy Student Debt Campaign "Pledge of Refusal," which asks student signatories to refuse their student loan debt until a number of education reforms are implemented, including free public education. Pamela Brown is a Ph.D. student in sociology at The New School, and Andrew Ross is a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. [includes rush transcript]